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Blood. 2006 Nov 1;108(9):2950-6. Epub 2006 Jul 6.

Expression levels of CD38 in T cells predict course of disease in male patients with B-chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

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Laboratory of Immunological and Molecular Cancer Research, 3rd Medical Dept at the Salzburg University Hospital, Muellner Hauptstrasse 48, A-5020 Salzburg, Austria.


CD38 expression of tumor cells has been identified as an important prognostic factor in B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL). Although CD38 is involved in effector functions of T cells, the prognostic value of CD38+ T cells has not yet been addressed in B-CLL. In the present study, CD38-expression levels in B-CLL cells and T cells from 204 patients were analyzed by flow cytometry and correlated with clinical and molecular risk parameters. CD38 expression significantly differed in the neoplastic clone from patients with low versus advanced stage, irrespective of the sex of patients. In contrast, CD38 expression was generally higher in T cells from female compared with male patients but only increased in male patients in a stage-dependent manner. In male patients, combined analysis of CD38 in T cells and B-CLL cells identified 4 subgroups with significantly different treatment-free survival. Multivariate analysis including Rai stage and molecular risk parameters of the neoplastic clone identified CD38-expression levels in T cells as an independent prognostic factor in male patients. Combined analysis of CD38 in B-CLL and T cells is superior in predicting outcome of male B-CLL patients than either parameter alone. Further studies are needed to elucidate the underlying mechanisms of the sex-specific role of CD38+ T cells in B-CLL.

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